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St. Louis-class cruiser
USS St. Louis
Class overview
Name: St. Louis class
Operators:  United States Navy
Preceded by: Denver class
Succeeded by: Chester class
Built: 1902-1906
In commission: 1905-1923
Completed: 3
Lost: 1
Scrapped: 2
General characteristics (as built)[1][2]
  • 9,700 long tons (9,900 t) (normal)
  • 10,839 long tons (11,013 t) (full load)
  • Length: 426.6 ft (130.0 m)
    Beam: 66 ft (20 m)
    Draft: 24.10 ft (7.35 m)
    Installed power:
    • 16 × straight-tube Babcock & Wilcox boilers
    • 2 × vertical triple-expansion engines
    • 21,000 indicated horsepower (16,000 kW) (design)
  • 2 × screws
  • Speed: 22 kn (41 km/h; 25 mph) (design)
    Complement: 673 officers and enlisted
  • Belt: 4 in (102 mm) with 4 in upper belt at casemates
  • Deck: 3 in (76 mm) slope, 2 in (51 mm) flat
  • Conning tower: 5 in (127 mm)
  • The St. Louis-class cruisers were a class of three cruisers that served in the United States Navy at the beginning of the 20th century. Authorized in fiscal year 1901 by an Act of Congress of 7 June 1900 as part of the naval buildup touched off by the Spanish–American War, the St. Louis-class cruiser initially began as an improved Olympia.[2][3] However, during the design phase, decisions were made that increased the size of the vessel from 6,000 long tons (6,100 t) to 9,700 long tons (9,900 t), including adding protection that resulted in the designation "semi-armored cruiser".[2] This led to a larger power plant, and other decisions were made to try to increase speed and range, such as using smaller 6-inch (152 mm) guns instead of 8-inch (203 mm) guns, and adding coal capacity.[2] The completed ship at 9,700 long tons was the same displacement as a full armored cruiser (such as the Royal Navy's Monmouth class, launched four years prior to the St. Louis class) without the same armor.[4] One reference describes the class as "among the earliest well-documented examples of creeping growth in warship design".[2]

    Milwaukee grounded near Eureka, California, and was lost in January 1917. The other ships of the class patrolled for German commerce raiders and escorted convoys in World War I, were decommissioned in the early 1920s, and were sold for scrap in 1930 in compliance with the London Naval Treaty.[3]

    Ship type

    Because of their relatively thin belt, this class was officially described as "semi-armored cruisers", bridging the gap between protected cruisers and armored cruisers. The Register of Ships of the US Navy lists them with the protected cruisers.[3] However, some other references list them as armored cruisers.[1] They were originally designated "cruisers" and not "armored cruisers", in the same series as protected cruisers.[3] The issue is confused by the Navy's official Ships' Data Book for 1911, which lists the St. Louis class as "First Class Cruisers" along with the earlier armored cruisers Saratoga (ex-New York) and Brooklyn.[5]

    Design and construction


    The armament of these ships was very similar to that of the concurrently-built Pennsylvania-class armored cruisers, minus the 8-inch turreted guns and the torpedo tubes. The main armament was fourteen 6-in/50 caliber Mark 6 guns (Mark 8 in Milwaukee), mounted one each fore and aft with the remainder in casemates on the sides.[6] The large secondary armament, intended to combat torpedo boats, included eighteen 3-inch (76 mm)/50 caliber rapid fire (RF) guns[7] and twelve 3-pounder (47-millimetre (1.9 in)) RF guns.[8] Four 1-pounder (37-millimetre (1.5 in)) automatic guns, eight 1-pounder (37-mm) RF guns,[9] and two .30 cal. (7.62 mm) machine guns (possibly the M1895 Colt–Browning machine gun) were also carried.[1][2]


    The armor of these ships was similar in arrangement to an armored cruiser, although significantly lighter compared to the concurrently-built Pennsylvania class. Harvey armor was used. A 4 in (102 mm) waterline belt that covered only the machinery spaces was augmented by a 4 in upper belt protecting the casemated guns. The protective deck was 3 in (76 mm) on the sloped sides and at the ends, and 2 in (51 mm) in the flat middle. The conning tower was 5 in (127 mm) thick.[1][2]


    The engineering plant included sixteen coal-fired Babcock & Wilcox straight-tube boilers supplying 250 psi (1,700 kPa) steam to two vertical four-cylinder triple-expansion engines, totaling 21,000 ihp (16,000 kW) for 22 kn (41 km/h; 25 mph) as designed.[5] On trials Milwaukee achieved 22.22 kn (41.15 km/h; 25.57 mph) at 24,166 ihp (18,021 kW).[2] The normal coal allowance was 650 tons, but this could be increased to 1,650 tons.[1]


    By 1911 the 1-pounder guns and machine guns had been removed, and the 3-pounder armament reduced to four saluting guns.[5] During World War I two of the 6-inch guns and all but four of the 3-inch single-purpose guns were removed, while two 3-in/50 caliber anti-aircraft guns were added.[10][11]

    Ships in class

    The three ships of the St. Louis class were:[3]

    Ship Shipyard Laid down Launched Commissioned Decommissioned Fate
    USS St. Louis (C-20) Neafie & Levy, Philadelphia 31 July 1902 6 May 1905 18 June 1906 3 March 1922 Sold for scrap 13 August 1930
    USS Milwaukee (C-21) Union Iron Works, San Francisco 30 July 1902 10 September 1904 10 December 1906 Grounded and lost attempting to refloat the submarine H-3 at Samoa Beach, near Eureka, California, on 13 January 1917
    USS Charleston (C-22) Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, Virginia 30 January 1902 23 January 1904 17 October 1905 4 December 1923 Sold for scrap 6 March 1930, used as floating breakwater in British Columbia until wrecked 18 February 1961, relocated to Kelsey Bay as breakwater, wreck remains in place[12]

    On 17 July 1920 St. Louis and Charleston were reclassified with the new hull numbers CA-18 (armored cruiser) and CA-19, respectively.



    External links

    Template:WWI US ships

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